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Is it easier to market restaurants in or outside London?

In my current role I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard someone say: “Having venues in London is easy – open your doors and customers will flood in.” How I wish that was true, I would be kicking back, having a cocktail and reaping the rewards!


One question I’ve been asked on numerous occasions is: “What’s the difference between marketing in London and other cities in the UK?” My answer: “The output of the approach.”


When I start a new role, my first move is to find out a venue’s customer and the best way to reach them. I know this sounds like basic marketing but sometimes we’re too busy to get it right.


At Novus I introduced “brand on a page”, a series of workshops I ran with each venue’s team, sales team and my marketing crew. It resulted in the usual brand outputs, words, tone of voice and, most importantly, six to eight customer profiles prevalent in each venue. The shock was to find two of our venues 50 metres apart had completely different customers while other venues that were cities apart had almost identical ones. Following on from the results, local marketing plans were easier to write and easier to activate as it allowed us to fully understand the best channels to contact our customers through, depending on location.


For our London-based venues the difference between the City and West End is indeed the customer. For example we recently opened a Tank & Paddle in Heddon Street, just off Regent Street, a first step for our pizza and beer brand into the West End as the other two venues are in the City.


Our marketing focus for this venue has centred on a location-based digital campaign as a large percentage of our customers are tourists and visitors to the area, especially at the weekend, while at the City of London Tank & Paddles our key focus has been on local networking with offices and businesses.


PPC, Google adverts and social advertising to targeted audiences have been fantastic channels for us because we can get our message to the right people. We have seen a 61% increase in traffic to the Tank & Paddle website thanks to this activity.


We have also activated Tube advertising in Piccadilly station in mornings and evenings to drive awareness of the venue and what it’s famous for. Our customers are on the Tube every day as they travel to the West End looking for somewhere to go.


However, marketing support is different for our regional venues. As a team based in central London, we often come under fire. “How would you understand the market place in Newcastle when you are 280 miles away?” I have to agree. It can be tough for a central marketing team to create that buy-in from operators, allow the flexibility for their market place and still deliver the brand. At Novus, after doing the piece of work with each venue on their brand identity, it helped me to structure the marketing department to ensure we had the correct support for all parts of our business.


The greatest win for us in this area was to become a more digitally focused team, which gave us greater ability to reach customers and support our regional venues. My team are now fully trained in SEO optimisation, social advertising, PPC, email and SMS marketing.


When a regional venue wants to launch a new offer or event it needs to provide a local market place overview that includes their target customer, what the offer is, their objective and local plan. At the end of the day, they are best placed to ensure the local needs are met while we centrally sense-check it and help amplify and deliver it in a branded fashion. The channels will change, our budget will change but the approach remains consistent throughout.


By adopting this locally led approach with support from the centre, we have seen a 15% increase in new visitors to our regional Tiger Tiger websites, which shows our messages are reaching existing and new customers alike.


We can never assume people will show up at our doors wanting to spend their hard earned cash, we need to speak to them in real time in the forums where they want to interact with us. This is the same for London as it is in the rest of the UK.